Friday, December 29, 2006

Adolph Hitler's Blood Relatives Are Alive and Well in New York State

Adolph Hitler never had kids, so we tend to take for granted the idea that no one alive is closely
related to him. But historians have long known that he had a nephew who was born in Britain
and moved to the United States. Alois Hitler, Jr., was Adolph's older half-brother (their common
parent was Alois Sr). Alois Jr. — a waiter in Dublin — married an Irish woman, and, after
moving to Liverpool, they had a son, William Patrick Hitler.
Pat, as he was called, moved to Germany as a young adult to take advantage of his uncle's rising
political stature, but Adolph just gave him minor jobs and kept him out of the limelight. After
being subtly threatened by Rudolph Hess to become a German citizen, and having gotten tired of
being dissed by Adolph, Pat came to America in 1939 and went on a lecture tour around the US,
denouncing his uncle. (For his part, Adolph referred to his nephew as "loathsome.") While
World War II was raging, Pat joined the US Navy, so he could fight against Uncle Adolph.
Afterwards, he changed his last name, and this is where the trail goes cold.
That is, until US-based British reporter David Gardner was assigned to track down and interview
William Patrick. Originally given two weeks to file the story, Gardner realized that finding
Hitler's long-lost nephew was tougher than it first appeared. He worked on the story during his
spare time for several years, unearthing old news clippings, filing requests for government
documents, interviewing possible relatives, and chasing a lot of dead ends.

He finally discovered that William Patrick had ended up in a small town in Long Island, New
York. Pat had died in 1987, but Gardner showed up unannounced on the doorstep of his widow,
Phyllis, who confirmed that her late husband was Adolph Hitler's nephew. She also mentioned
that she and Pat had sons, but she quickly clammed up and asked Gardner to leave. The two
never spoke again.
After more legwork, Gardner found that Pat and Phyllis produced four children, all sons. The
eldest, born in 1949, is named Alexander Adolph. (Just why Pat would name his firstborn after
his detested uncle is one of many mysteries still surrounding the Hitler kin.) Then came Louis in
1951, Howard (1957), and Brian (1965). Howard — a fraud investigator for the IRS — died in a
car crash w 1989, and Louis and Brian continue to run a landscaping business in the small New
York community. Alex lives in a larger Long Island city. He twice spoke to Gardner but didn't
reveal very much, saying that the family's ancestry is "a pain in the ass." Alex said that his
brothers made a pact never to have children, in order to spare their progeny the burden of being
related to a monster. He denied having made such a vow himself, despite the fact that he is still
Gardner sums it up: "Although there are some distant relations living equally quiet lives in
Austria, the three American sons are the only descendants of the paternal line of the family. They
are, truly, the last of the Hitlers."

1 comment:

Scarbrowed said...

Gardner's book has the whole storyif anyone wants to know more: